June 8, 2013 Robin I grew up in a loving, Christian home. I thought if I was good, followed the rules and prayed, God would provide a great life for me. When I was 18, I got engaged and was married at 21. We had 2 healthy sons but as time went on, we realized that we were not compatible and the situation was not good for us nor was it a good environment for the boys. We went through a very difficult 2 year divorce. Just before the divorce was final, I met a wonderful man that treated me with respect and made me laugh. He became a very important part of my life and after 2 years, we were married. He was an incredible, loving husband and father to my boys. We had the most amazing love for each other. We were so happy and he would often just look at me and say, “I am so happy”. We were married for just under 2 years and Craig told me that he would really like to have a child together. There were difficulties getting pregnant so we went through Invetro-Fertilization. As we were going through this process, Craig developed some back pain. I thought maybe he was just nervous from all the shots he had to give me each day. In early March, we received news that we were pregnant. I felt like the happiest girl in the world. God had blessed me with 2 healthy children, an amazing husband, a baby and a great career…what more could anyone ask for???? Craig’s back pain continued and on April 1st, he was schedule for an MRI….the same day that we would have our first ultrasound of the baby. The morning of April 1st, we discovered that Craig had a tumor the size of a football growing in his abdomen and that afternoon, we witnessed the heartbeat of our baby. I will never forget Craig calling his parents and saying, “I have some good news and I have some bad news…the good news is that we are having a baby and the bad news is that I have a tumor and I will be going into the hospital for a biopsy.” The tumor had cut off the ability for Craig’s kidneys to drain into his bladder which is what was causing the back pain. The doctors spent the first week just getting the kidneys working again. The second week, the biopsy on the tumor was performed. It was very difficult as the tumor was large and blood vessels were entangled in the tumor. 3 days after the biopsy, April 10, 2002, Craig developed a massive blood clot in his lungs and passed away suddenly. He was 37 years old. I was in shock. How could this happen? How could God do this to me? What had I done so bad to deserve this? I had lost my husband, my best friend, my identity, my future. 3 weeks after Craig died, I went for the next ultrasound and there was no heartbeat…I had lost the baby too. I was overcome with another phase of intense grief as this was the only part of Craig that I was still holding on to. As I cried, a peace came over me and I looked at my friend and said, “The baby is with Craig. He wanted this baby and they are now both in heaven together.” For the next few years, I fought my life. This was not the life I wanted, this was not the life I thought I was suppose to have, I didn’t want to live this life and I did not want to accept it. Finally, I woke up and realized that God had given me this life and that I had to accept it and only I could make it good again. My boys were getting older and they needed me to “live” again. I had to choose to live again and to make my life as good as it could be both for myself and for my boys. We started working on putting our life back together and making it the best life it could be. I became so much stronger in my walk with God and learning to have faith and trust him. Only he could give me the peace I needed just to get through the days, weeks, months, years. I spent 9 years focusing on raising my boys and making our life the best it could be. I made the choice not to become a victim. Through my loss, I was a new person, a more compassionate person, a person that did not worry and could just enjoy the simple things in life. I looked at things differently and realized how important friends and family were in my life. The most valuable things in life were people and I should spend as much time on this earth helping/serving people and making memories with my boys. I also decided that through my loss, I could help others work through their loss. I became very involved with grief support and not only helping individuals who participated in grief support ministry but also reaching out to other hurting individuals throughout my everyday life. I discovered that through my grief, God had given me the gift of compassion and the ability to listen, love and minister to others. The closer I got to God and the more faith I had in him, the more peaceful my life became…no more anxiety, fear, extreme loneliness…God just wrapped his loving arms around me and filled all my needs. Jeremiah 29:11 was the verse that I continued to rely on. I prayed for years that God would bring a man into my life. I knew my boys were getting older and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone. I felt that God kept say, “Not now….I have things for you to do in your singleness”. I continued to focus on my boys, their friends and my grief ministry. I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to truly “love” again. Could my life every be as good or better than it had been with Craig? I had decided that if I could not find “true love” again that I would remain single as there is no way I could ever “settle” and I knew that only God could bring me the man that I would need in my life. When my youngest son left home and went off to college, I continued to pray that God would prepare me for my next husband and that God would prepare my next husband for me. I continued to have faith and to really give it to God, trusting that he had a plan for my life and my future and that only he could take care of my needs. In early 2011, God sent the man that I would spend the rest of my life with. Within the first 20 minutes, I could understand and love this man’s heart….only God could have put this man in my life, only God could open my heart and allow me to love him and accept him for all of who he is. Only God could open his heart and allow him to feel and understand my heart. It is just the most amazing experience. Both of us have had suffering and difficulty in our lives which allowed us to see and appreciate and love each other more than we ever could have imagined. God is so good…God is so amazing….sometimes we have to experience deep pain to get closer to him and appreciate all that only he can bless us with. June 19, 2013 Sarah Cleveland LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!! Makes me smile all over! July 18, 2013 Devin I believe everyone has a story. Everyone has some sort of baggage and everyone has been through some kind of tragedy. I also believe, along with many other cliches, that our experiences make us stronger. Back in April 2011, I found myself in the middle of my own tragedy. I remember how lost I was and how extremely doubtful and fearful I was of my future. Depression had captured the best of me. I was on a downward uncontrollable spiral. I completely felt as if I had no choice over my own happiness. I quit all of the things I loved to do, including dance. I lost a lot of friends because I only trusted so few. I got involved in some terrible interpersonal relationships and I developed a lot of bad habits. By January 2011, I was already cutting. Many people have different opinions on why people harm themselves, and my reason is that it gave me a sense of control over the pain that I felt. My mood swings were frequent and I could feel the depression getting worse. I no longer had control over my problems; I let them swallow me whole. Every time I was faced with a conflict, all I could think about was “I want out.” I couldn’t deal with things anymore and my grades were dropping very fast. Finally, in April, I released it all, swallowed a bunch of pills, and gave up. I woke up to low blood pressure, charcoal, and doctors and social workers questioning my motives. My mothers face was as pale as a ghosts. I remember still being so terrified and yet I knew that there was a purpose for my life. I remember not attending USC in the fall like so many of my high school classmates, and I remember thinking, “This is never going to end”. But the tragedy does end, the fear does fade, and the doubts do turn into hope somehow. I was given a second chance at life and I have been able to be an example for many others struggling with suicide and depression. I had to go through a lot of therapy, but by the time 2012 came around, I was ready for college at the University of South Carolina. I remember the day my dad and Ashley moved me into my dorm room on the 16th floor of South Tower in the spring. They made sure to bring Katie, their chocolate lab, because Katie was going to pretend to be a “helper dog” for the day. I moved in on a Wednesday and all of the other students weren’t going to move in until the weekend. I knew my parents were worried about me. They were probably thinking, “Can she handle this after everything that’s happened?” “Should she be on her own?” “Should we leave her here?” And I remember getting everything put away and Ashley, now my stepmother, pulling a small journal out of the car. She handed me the book, and told me to read through it if I ever needed inspiration or wanted to document my own inspiration. The journal was one she had made for me. Ashley wrote down quotes that have helped her through hard times, gotten her through some of her best times, and just humorous life lessons that would be fun for anyone to read. She told me she didn’t fill up the book. She said to read the quotes she had written, and then add my own favorite quotes, and then maybe pass the book on to someone else. I remember thinking to myself how special this book was to me. I remember looking at Ashley and seeing her tearing up, but also feeling all of the love pouring out of her on to me. Its amazing how people can grow to love someone, even a step mother or a step father. Today, I have added quite a few quotes to my own journal, and I have also made one for someone else who needed some TLC at the time. Today, over two years after I was in such a dark place, I have learned so much. I have become stronger than I’ve ever been. But sometimes strength isn’t about always being strong. I think it’s about knowing what your weaknesses are so you can recognize a red flag when you see one. Or maybe it’s about learning from your past so that you can improve the present. Either way, I think I’ve done a little bit of both. Today, I can see the beauty in this world again, I can feel the genuine love from my family and my friends, I can truly say I believe in second chances, and I will always be the person that can’t go to sleep mad at someone. I’m still attracted to the bad guys in some ways, but at least now I can call it when I see it. I think the most beautiful people are the ones that know who they are and dare to be different. I’m a lover of art and music of all kinds and I have a plan for my future, a future that used to look very foggy 26 months ago. I am currently a psychology major at USC planning to get a PhD so I can open my own practice and help adolescents and adults get through their own battles with depression. I tell the people that are close to me, people that ask me how I’m doing, I tell them, “I’m on a path of self discovery.” I believe becoming my own person is something I’ve missed out on for quite some time. And every now and then, when I’m not feeling my best, I open up my journal. The journal that was given to me out of pure love. The journal that was given to me by a person who WAS hopeful for my future, and I look at all of the quotes. Today, I’d like to share one of my favorite ones with you all. “I’ve learned that no matter what happens or how bad it seems today life goes on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled christmas lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationships with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same as making a life. I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that everyday you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go thru life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou “Things are never as bad as they seem. And even at the worst of times, love can expel all of your fear.” July 18, 2013 Thomas Trolinger I want to Thank you so much for sharing your story! Wow, you have been through a lot and have made some very big changes in your life. You are an inspiration to others just as Ashley was an inspiration to you. Sharing your story will allow others to know that they too can get through difficult times if they choose to work at it. Thank you again for sharing! MyCC.org Leave a Testimonial Click here to cancel reply. You must be logged in to post a testimonial.